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Thursday, Apr 29, 2004

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Sharjah free trade zone woos investors

G. Gurumurthy

Coimbatore , April 28

THE Sharjah-based free trade zone, the Hamriyah Free Zone (HFZ) authorities have planned to hard-sell the investment opportunities in HFZ among Indian investors.

They anticipate more Indian companies to look out for transhipment production bases to take advantage of the emerging free trade regime under the WTO framework and show keenness to set up shops in major Gulf-based free trade zones on the consideration of logistics and market proximity for their products/services.

`Of the estimated billion dollar investment that would have gone into the HFZ since its launch in 1998, the share of investments from the Indian trade and businesses into the free trade zone till date remained the single largest at 26 per cent and the growth of investment into the zone has been particularly high at 40 per cent between late 2003 and March 2004,' said Ms Leela Karunaratne, senior marketing officer of the HFZ.

Ms Leela who was here as part of HFZ's roadshow arranged under the aegis of the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Coimbatore told

pressmen that the promoters of HFZ proposed to target smaller South Indian industrial centres where the trade and manufacturing sectors would be looking at such investment opportunities, especially in the area of having off-shore `value-adding' points.

The next round of roadshows would be held in the eastern part including Kolkata and Hyderabad some time by September.

HFZ offers competitive rates in leasing charges for industrial sheds, plots and licensing fees for new companies seeking investments. It has good infrastructure facilities and investment facilitation programmes such as single window clearance of projects, lower energy cost (power charge at the zone works out to 6 cents per unit) etc,. These have rendered the operating cost for the industries locating their units in HFZ cheaper by 30 per cent compared to other export processing zones in the UAE, said Ms Leela.

Expansion at the bulk handling sea port at Sharjah and as well as the inner port at HFZ with addition of a container terminal handling facility shortly and the provision of the piped gas supply to be made available by next year end would further enhance the infrastructure base of HFZ, she added.

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